Infant health and mothers’ exposure to air pollution

This project will investigate the effect of maternal exposure to ambient air pollution during pregnancy on birth outcomes in Northern Ireland. 

The data

Researchers will use data from the Northern Ireland Maternity Service (NIMATs) linked with publicly available modelled background pollution data. The NIMATs contains a range of demographic and clinical information on mothers and infants, including the infant’s birth weight and the mother’s past medical and obstetric history. Pollution exposure is given as the annual average level of ambient air pollution at a mother’s area of residence in the year of pregnancy, with maternal exposure assigned using 1x1 km grid square data. 

The potential 

The study will investigate whether babies of mothers living in relatively highly polluted areas during pregnancy are born earlier and have lower birth weight than babies of mothers living in less polluted areas. Improving air quality and improving birth outcomes are two policy objectives set out in the Northern Ireland Draft Programme for Government. Thus, this project will help to inform policymakers about how far reductions in levels of air pollution are needed to improve infant health in Northern Ireland.

Project lead

Professor Duncan McVicar, Queen’s University Belfast (ADR Northern Ireland).

This project is funded by ADR Northern Ireland via its core grant from the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC) as an ADR UK partner.

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